Here we are. The post-season has begun for the fall teams.
Women’s and men’s soccer is underway with tournament play and volleyball gets going in a few days.
The football team has nine days remaining.
Dordt College is hosting the cross country championships on Saturday.
Two teams under one coach.
Different expectations for two very different teams.
The women had quite a few veterans returning. The men were filling significant gaps.
Training and recovery is so important and there is no other sport where you only get five or six competitions before the post-season hits. It’s unique.
What goes through a coach’s head as he reflects on a season during championship week. Coach Nate Wolf was kind enough to put down in words his thoughts this weelk.
I love this week! This week is the week you have been focused on, not simply since this past meet finished, but since June 1 when you started training. Remember that week? You received an email from me with some weekly mileage and a few other “tips” to get your training started. That week 30 women and 19 men (of which were 20 freshmen and one transfer who had not yet met each other) started a journey of preparation to perform over the course of five regular season meets. Each long run, each tempo run, each interval you ran drew you closer and closer to this coming Saturday. Men, 1,200 miles (which is running to Denver, CO and back to Sioux Center by the most direct route) of preparation have led to 26-28 minutes of “all in” racing. Ladies, 800+ miles (roughly the distance to Bozeman, MT) have led you to the opportunity to “run with each other and run for each other” for just under 19:00.
You started the season with many different expectations.
You started the season with many different expectations. Men, your internal expectations were to replace five seniors that were in our top scoring seven on a conference runner-up team. At the start of the season you were beat by five conference teams. Over the course of the season you have beaten all but one of those teams. Ladies, there have been many expectations placed on you as the season has progressed. Starting out as the highest ranked conference team and being part of a DCXC legacy that includes four of the last five conference championships (and one runner-up finish) carries many lofty external expectations. Over the course of your season, you have prepared thoroughly and created a sisterhood that you all draw inspiration from. You come into this week having won your last two meets and very deserving of your #11 national rank.
I started the season unsure what to expect. For you men, having more incoming freshmen men (10) than returners (9) led to some uncertainty on a team that I felt may have a chance to be just as good as that conference runner-up team from last year. Ladies, knowing that we would be missing four of the top five women’s runners from last year’s 11th place national team (including the top three) created some uncertainty in whether the women could rise to the level of past teams. What reasonable expectations are there for a team with only one returning top five runner from the final race the year before?
I have seen a group of upperclassmen men welcome a group of freshmen men and that resulting team take on every practice with the fire of experienced veterans.
Defenders, this is what I have seen this year. I have seen a group of upperclassmen men welcome a group of freshmen men and that resulting team take on every practice with the fire of experienced veterans. I have watched upperclassmen that learned from those seniors on last year’s team, work to impart racing wisdom and confidence to freshmen that, in some cases, were finishing ahead of them in races. I have seen a group of women pack together and be willing to push to the finish, regardless of how they felt or where they were finishing within the team, so the “gold jersey” could get across the line the fastest. I have been inspired by the mental toughness, physical toughness, and stubbornness – downright grittiness – of a women’s team that insisted, through their actions, that they could carry on the legacy of the women’s teams that have raced before them. I have watched as you have all focused on the daily work and process and tuned out the expectations. I have seen two teams come together to pursue a common goal that culminates in two races this weekend.
I have seen a group of women pack together and be willing to push to the finish, regardless of how they felt or where they were finishing within the team, so the “gold jersey” could get across the line the fastest.
This is the lesson I want you to hold onto as you reflect on the year… the work and the process are where the value is found. In your lives, you cannot control other people’s expectations and, at times, their expectations and even our own expectations can limit us. If you keep your head down and focus on the daily work, at the end of it all you might just raise your head and find that you have surpassed the limits set in place by yourself and others. The results are things we cannot always control… sometimes other people just have a better day. That does not minimize the value of the work done or the lessons you learn about yourself on the way or somehow indicate you didn’t compete with every fiber of you being.
Your faith walk is much the same. We live in a world where at times everything seems to be close to breaking. Even our own Sioux Center and Dordt College communities are not immune to the insipidness of sin. Your role as Christians is much the same as runners… be faithful to the work God has placed before you. Don’t worry about the chaos you perceive around you, God’s order is found in our perception of chaos. Instead, daily do good work, giving thanks to God always. He will bless that work and it is Christ that provides reconciliation and redemption.
On Saturday, be fearless. The hay is in the barn. You have prepared and you are ready to perform.
On Saturday, be fearless. The hay is in the barn. You have prepared and you are ready to perform. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and give thanks to God that you have the opportunity to move yourselves once again through his creation. Do not be weighted down with expectations or focus on the potential outcomes. Instead, do what you have done all season long. Work hard. Work together. Run with each other. Run for each other. Praise God with your physical gifts. Leave the jersey in a better place.
I am privileged to coach you and I am proud of the incredible work you have put in this season.
You know the drill, now let’s get after it…